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On October 23rd, Hungarians celebrate the brave women and men who stood up to Soviet communist oppression and fought for their freedom against one of the world’s biggest armies. After a few glorious days of victory, the 1956 Hungarian Revolution was eventually overpowered by overwhelming military force, but the freedom fight drove the first nail into the coffin of communist oppression in the world.
House Speaker László Kövér attended a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the birth of Ferenc Rákóczi II, leader of Hungary’s anti-Habsburg freedom fight between 1703-1711, at Rákóczi’s birthplace in Borsi, in northern Hungary, on Sunday
Hungary’s national day, March 15th, commemorates the day in 1848 when Hungarians started a revolution that would become a war of independence from the Habsburgs. In his address on Wednesday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán spoke of the meaning that 1848 carries for Hungary and its significance to today’s Europe.
It was a Tuesday, that October 23rd in 1956. The whole thing began as a peaceful, student demonstration, young people with a manifesto asserting the right to be independent from all foreign powers and that all Hungarians should enjoy the rights of free people in a democratic system. The crowds grew as the demonstrations moved throughout the city. By nightfall, State Security Police had fired on a crowd of unarmed demonstrators outside the state radio building, killing many.
Some have wondered when that fateful turn began, that moment that marked “the beginning of the end of the Soviet Empire.” For those of us who endured Soviet oppression behind the Iron Curtain, it came in 1956, brought about by a scrappy pack of kids, many of whom paid the ultimate price for their courage.